Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Shore Excursions – incredibly useful things to know before visiting


Each year, roughly 8 million visitors are coming to Vietnam by plane, car, or cruises. And without a doubt, Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City, formerly known as Saigon, is one of the most popular destinations for a port of call. Whether you are on a 1-week cruise discovering Southeast Asia or you are on a 3-month journey exploring the world – this city discovery is not to be missed.

Once dearly called Diamond of the Far-east with the luxury level overriding that of Hongkong or Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City is now the most populated city in Vietnam. Modern office skyscrapers, amidst Oriental style pagodas and food stalls along the street, create a dynamic urban area in very special sense. It is not oddly tidy like in Singapore, nor is urban slumps omnipresent like in India.

To help you make the most of your trip before you visit Saigon, I’m writing this blog to give you, hopefully, some know-before-you-go useful insights about Ho Chi Minh’s port of calls.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Port of Calls: Nha Rong Port, Phu My port, and Hiep Phuoc Port

There are currently 3 active ports serving cruise ships in Ho Chi Minh City: Nha Rong Port, Hiep Phuoc, and Phu My’s Tan Cang Cai Mep Port.

Nha Rong Wharf (Nha Rong Port) is located at the junction of the Ben Nghe Channel and the Saigon River. And Nha Rong Wharf is a cultural site with special relics in Ho Chi Minh City, where late President Ho Chi Minh left to seek ways to save the nation. Today, the Nha Rong – Ho Chi Minh museum is a cultural site that hosts a wide range of cultural and political activities including seminars, talks, exhibitions and films about Uncle Ho. This is a glorious landmark in Ho Chi Minh City and for the history of Vietnam.

Phu My Port is a commercial port with nothing nearby. Cruise ships dock at container terminal piers at the port. A shuttle may be provided to the small town of Ba Ria approx 10 miles to the southeast where you can take a taxi to the beach resort city of Vung Tau. The best way to get to Ho Chi Minh City is either with the ship’s or a private tour. Taxis may wait outside the port gates.

  • Please do NOT take the hydrofoil/fast ferry to Saigon since it is old and unreliable.
  • Be advised that the Vietnam tour guides require your passport details in advance to arrange port passes.
  • The permit to pick tourists up at the port is compulsory to the company if tourists want to be safe and legal. Expecting to pay 25-30 USD/person for port fees though “unofficial” fees may be less. If not, you need to walk outside of the port.

Citizens of most countries will be issued a visa on arrival and this will be charged to their shipboard account (approx $6-$50 USD/pp depending on the ship’s processing fee). It is best to confirm with your cruise line the latest visa policy.

Until 30 June 2018, visa is not required for British, French, German, Italian and Spanish citizens with passport having at least six-month validity travelling to Viet Nam for up to 15 days for all purposes. The 15-day visa exemption is for single entry only and includes the date of entry and the date of exit.


Depending on the size of your cruise ship, the port of call varies. Smaller ships can navigate up the Saigon river and dock adjacent to the city center at Nha Rong or Hiep Phuoc but bigger cruise ships must dock at Phu My’s Tan Cang Cai Mep Port and Tan Cang Cai Mep Thi Vai Port

(If you need help finding out your port of call, you can email the arrival date and name of your ship using our )

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